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Chapter and Verse: New Order, Joy Division and Me

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,015 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Founding member and guitarist of Joy Division and the lead singer of New Order, Bernard Sumner has been famous over the years for his reticence. Until now… An integral part of the Manchester music scene since the late 1970s, his is the definitive version of the events that created two of the most influential bands of all time.

Chapter and Verse includes a vivid and illumin
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published November 3rd 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published August 28th 2014)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Matt Thurston
So many charismatic lead singers fronted UK bands in the 1980s – Morrissey (The Smiths) pranced around the stage in half-open silk shirts, bathed in crowd adulation and air-born gladioli; David Gahan (Depeche Mode) was all confidence and sex appeal, spinning a mic stand like a gothic baton; Ian McCulloch (Echo & the Bunnymen), like Jim Morrison, looked cool just standing there; Matt Johnson (The The) radiated intelligence, stalking the stage like a welterweight boxer; even Robert Smith (The Cure ...more
Paul Gleason
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
While containing a lot of interesting technical and historical material on synthesizers, Sumner's book offers little of interest to Joy Division and New Order fans.

The man gets most of his facts right (with the exception of the creative role of Peter Hook, whom I've interviewed and whose books on Joy Division and The Hacienda are a bawdy delight), but the many other films and books on Joy Division give better accounts. Hooky's book, the JD doc, Control, the new book of Ian's lyrics...all give th
Nicolas Doye
Disappointing, badly written with shed loads of gaps. Where was the editor? He flips backwards and forwards, repeats many sections and the only real insight is into his childhood.

It's almost as if he rushed it out so he could give a detailed rebuttal of Hooky's version of the end of New Order.

Speaking of which, Hooky's books are far more amusing and give more detail on the band. He talks about other people a lot more than Barney's almost self-obsessed tome.

I preferred David Nolan's book on Mr Su
U. Cronin
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two things immediately hit me about this book: it is pretty badly written and incredibly coy. Compared to ex-bandmate, Peter Hook's Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, Bernard Sumner's Chapter and Verse, seems at first glance mundane, lacking in humour, restrained and perhaps even willfully evasive. He doesn't go in for Hooky's sly line in character assassination or wry rock 'n' roll anecdotes. He doesn't have Hooky's ability to spin a funny yarn or move a story along. I would have said that ...more
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music, finished-2016
I really want to give this memoir a high rating because it's subject is New Order, one of my favorite bands, but I just can't. Vague, uninformative, un-self-reflecting memoirs are a pet peeve of mine. I'm never quite sure if it's because the memoirist is writing the book under duress and really does not want to share about his/her life(but signed a contact because they need the money) or if the memoirist is devoid of reflective thought, incapable of deep introspection or serious contemplation. I ...more
Gene Hult
Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it
As Bernard Sumner is the singer and lyricist of one of my top three lifetime favorite bands, New Order, I was particularly predisposed to enjoy his autobiography.

It was cool learning about the fundamentals of his life, and I was never bored, but his writing has the same clear, direct, opaque quality as his lyrics. He's always talking right to us, but he's a master of using simple language to mask and obfuscate his particulars, even if we know basically what he's talking about. So we follow thro
Rob Thompson
Would have benefited from a ghostwriter or a stricter editor

Bernard Sumner is an English singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. He is a founding member of both Joy Division and New Order. Sumner is credited with the latter band's move towards electronica and synthpop. He was a founding member of Joy Division, a Salford band formed in 1976. He and childhood (but not later) friend Peter Hook both attended the fabled Sex Pistols concert at Manchester's Free Trade Hall on July 20, 1976 an
Maria Felgueiras
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great to read Bernard Sumner's personal account on Joy Division and New Order and once again immersing on the Manchester music scene. ...more
Johan Ljung
I've been an avid fan of Joy Division and New Order for three decades and I have the utmost respect and admiration for Bernard Sumner as a musician and composer. Unfortunately, he's not a very good writer. As a lyricist he pales in comparison with Ian Curtis, and as a biographer he falls short of Curtis's widow. This book, while a worthwhile read for a fan like myself, would have benefited from a ghostwriter or stricter editor. There are several annoying repetitions, while difficult subjects and ...more
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biog-autobiog
I enjoyed this book far more than I expected too..having read Peter Hooks books on Joy Division and the Hacienda it was likely I would maybe gravitate more towards his camp in regard the whole New Order division..however I enjoyed Bernard's book immensely.
Unlike a lot of biographies in which you are willing the pre fame parts away to get to the sections which deal with the highs and lows of a pop star I did enjoy the early bits.
The family dynamics where of interest and helped really found of any
Nov 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
Virtually nothing of interest to Joy Division/New Order/Factory Records/etc. fans, and a total waste of time for anyone else to read. Bland, repetitive, & provides no noteworthy insights into anything at all, beyond the mindnumbingly generic ("The Hacienda was a poorly run business venture", "Joy Division and New Order are both still popular and famous", "musicians and music fans abuse a lot of drugs", &c.) Unless you're desperate to read of Ian Curtis' alleged past lives, there's no reason to b ...more
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Would have liked more Joy Division era stories however was entertaining read. Interesting to hear other side of Hooky's vitriol. As these band things go, it seemed culmination of muzik, money and motivations exploding. Seemed enough salacious bits sprinkled throughout book like tales of gangsters and Hacienda, boozing and raving with Johnny Marr, etc to keep text from being too dry. ...more
Kathy Heare Watts
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I won a copy of this book during a Goodreads giveaway. I am under no obligation to leave a review or rating and do so voluntarily. So that others may also enjoy this book, I am paying it forward by donating it to my local library.
Another POV on a well known story

It was a pleasant read though not much news here. Many of the stories were told before , still as Joy Division and Manchester of the 80s were so influentials it's always interesting for the fans to have another pov of one of the main acyors
Manuel Mertel Morillo
Sumner writes like grandpas talk. Interesting insights on his childhood and Ian Curtis, though.
Ryan Lieske
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Being the huge Joy Division/New Order/Electronic fan that I am, I have to say that I enjoyed Sumner's sort of laid back memoir. But I ended the book wanting more. After the chapters on him growing up, and the Joy Division era, he skips around quite a bit, and it almost feels like he's rushing in the final chapters.

Naturally, I wanted an album-by-album, song-by-song reminiscence, but that's probably asking too much. Sumner's written A LOT of music, and I wouldn't expect him to have an earth-shat
Tony Zale
Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it
During junior high, my best friend’s older brother was an aspiring DJ. His turntables showed up at a handful of birthday parties and school dances, pumping a live mix of Chicago house music alongside synth-based bands like Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, and New Order. These groups became my first musical obsession, but New Order was the inscrutable one of the bunch. Depeche Mode made massive music, polished and costumed for arenas. Erasure limited themselves to beautiful, pure, discipline ...more
Mariam Odent
Dec 31, 2015 rated it liked it
The good: The early parts of the book describing his childhood and what Salford was like in the 1970s. It does a good job contextualizing the sound of Joy Division. Some decisions about the look of the covers, the origins of the band names and his work with Johnny Marr was interesting to read about. And he has a genuine sense of humour when looking back at his hedonistic days and the fish out of water mistakes and happy accidents that was the beginning of Joy Division.

The not-so Good: After 198
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Intercepted on its way to the charity shop while visiting my Dad at Xmas. I quite enjoyed his account of growing up poor in post-war Salford but the latter two thirds of the book feel rather uneven: Joy Division seems to be over in the space of thirty or so pages, and there's an awful lot of space given over to emerging synth technologies used on the first New Order record. It's not especially well-written, though to be fair, that might be an indication that it really is Sumner's work and not th ...more
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
New Order is one of my favorite bands, so I'm totally biased when it comes to anything about them. That being said, I learned a lot about both Joy Division and New Order and the members of the bands. If you're not a fan, this likely isn't for you. Also, this seems to hack a complete lack of editorial input as things move about at random, things repeat and it could have been much more concise. I still really liked it, but it could have been better with a little editing. ...more
Oscar Calva
Bernard Sumner is a legend, a key part of two of my favorite bands ever, and a key piece in the Manchester musical scene. But he's better at writing songs than books. It's not that this autobiographical book is badly written, but if you're going to write a book about those years in those hugely influential bands, you definitely need to leave your ego behind and not write a book that reads more like the life and work of Bernard Sumner, kickass musician and synthethizer uber geek. ...more
Elliot Chalom
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Disclaimer: I received this book as a winner of a Goodreads First-Read Giveaway ... and I was so happy I did! Been looking forward to Sumner's autobiography ever since hearing that he was putting out what was effectively a response to former bandmate's Peter Hook's book.

In “Chapter and Verse”, Bernard Sumner finally breaks his long silence about his life and his two primary bands because he feels the need to set the record straight (read: respond to things Peter Hook has said and written over t
Peter McCarthy
I read this after the Peter Hook New Order biography so that's my point of reference. This book is traditionally edited, almost to the point of me being certain that it was ghostwritten. The narrative flows quite well and while Sumner talks a lot about letting you into his world, he never really does. This is standard rock-star autobiography fare, with some bits of self-deprecation here and there but you really get the feeling that Mr. Sumner is quite pleased with himself and what he sees as his ...more
Aimee Hodges
Bernard Summer’s counterpoint on the New Order story is the antithesis of Peter Hook’s books. It is not very well written, sometimes repetitive and often mundane. The book leaves me wanting more from Bernard - he glossed over so much. I see that he’s trying to keep it classy, but I don’t feel like he gave me much insight to who he truly is, just a few brief glimmers.

Even though it reads a bit too factual and historical, I still enjoyed it because It’s Bernard Sumner. I might have created an imag
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Back in the nineties, I was heavily into music and along with begging, borrowing or stealing every release I could, I devoured the likes of NME, Melody Maker (pah!) and Select Magazine, the latter pair now defunct, Select sadly so. All carried regular features and interviews with Morrissey and New Order, both still highly relevant as they shifted from current vogue to 'godfather' status, the zeitgeist (1990s word there) having long since moved on yet the levels of reverence present and correct. ...more
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Barney Sumner's predilection for Pernod confirmed on p. 178.

"Another curious trade developed when the council began demolishing houses: people kept discovering old swords hidden behind the fireplaces, apparently left over from the Crimean War[...] The kids would collect them, creating a thriving local black market in vintage weaponry. I remember being in the wrong place at the wrong time once and being chased by a gang of kids all waving sabres."

"It was still the early days for the Pistols; they
Michael Bell
Jan 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Um...It's worth reading and definitely enjoyable overall. It's nice to have Sumner's voice added to the JD/NO narrative. He spends half his time on the well-trod 3 years of Joy Division, then crams 30+ years of comparatively untold New Order history into the rest. The book's index reveals a single use of the words 'Bizarre Love Triangle,' and zero entries for 'Power, Corruption, and Lies,' 'Low-Life,' or 'Brotherhood.' Sumner repeatedly tells the reader of his fascination with the recording proc ...more
Quinton Baran
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This was an interesting biography of Bernard, starting with his youth and going through to present day (about 2014). I agree with some of the reviewers, that there is quite a bit of repetition of ideas and thought, but for me, it wasn't very troubling. It helped me get a feel for his voice.

This isn't a tell-all book, which is refreshing for me. Some like to bathe in the debauchery that entertainers have gone through. Sumner touches on some of these things, but mostly focuses on relationships, a
Jim Murrell
Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Undoubtedly one of the most influential groups of the last 30 years, New Order are my favourite band by a country mile. Their music is unique, powerful and enduring. It is therefore, somewhat disappointing to find this memoir falls short of what I’d hoped. There is some good evocative stuff on Barney’s youth and the Joy Division days. I’d been hoping for something insightful about the writing of some many of the standout songs of my youth but there is a lot of glossing over. Power, Corruption & ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book!! Bernard Sumner has foretold an excellent version of his side as well as how they've, as a band, stayed loyal to their friends. These friends, true or not have helped them through this exciting journey as Joy Division & New Order. As we know, The Hacienda drained any wages earned as a musician. In the end it was just a bad business decision that just fueled a dream for a few selfish people. Chapter & Verse showed a great insight on Bernard's life growing up as a member of both ba ...more
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